Mental Capacity Act

2665 Words Nov 3rd, 2011 11 Pages
Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act was passed in 2008 in Parliament so that Singaporeans can appoint proxy decision-makers before they become mentally incapacitated by illnesses like dementia or brain damage. The Act, which came into force on 1 March 2010, is broadly modelled on the UK’s own Medical Capacity Act 2005 (Gillespie, 2010) and individuals can do so through a new statutory mechanism called "Lasting Power of Attorney" or LPA – which enables adult individuals to prospectively appoint one or more persons they trust, to act and make decisions in their best interests, in the event that they should lose mental capacity (MCYS 2010). Many have welcomed it as a timely measure to address the social realities of a fast ageing
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nutrition, hydration and pain relief? Advance decisions to refuse treatment are not as yet widespread in medical care, but are undoubtedly encountered more frequently (Cowan 2007).

The concept of what is in the best interest of a person may be new or difficult to appreciate and operationalize. There will be occasions when the decision-maker might be faced with strong opposition from other members of the family whose interests may not be aligned. When multiple clients are involved, the same question arises: who is the primary client, and therein, whose goals should be identified, clarified, and pursued? This question is especially poignant when differing goals appear to conflict, as in some cases. There is a need to know whether it is the client’s best interests or her rights and freedoms that ought to be given greater weight and so which ought to act as a constraint on the other (Herissone-Kelly, 2010). And even when a primary client can be identified, an important consideration is whether the client’s desired decision can be considered when she is mentally ill and who should be socially responsible for such decision?

The holistic approach to the determination of the best interests of a person who lacks decision-making capacity is further enhanced by the requirement that decision makers consult with others about care and treatment. (Griffith & Tengnah, 2008). The Act provides a checklist of common factors that must be taken into account before a
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